By Anne Thompson and Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood March 7, 2013 at 4:17PM
Now that Sam Mendes has dropped out of directing "Bond 24," who should helm the follow-up to the billion-dollar "Skyfall"? The new MI6 table's been set with M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw), and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and with no more rites of passage or existential crises to deal with, Daniel Craig's 007 is now fully formed and reporting for duty "with pleasure." Here's a rundown of some of the likeliest and unlikeliest directors; we invite you to vote for your favorite in the poll below.
Pros: The producer-writer-director knows how to start with character to find the heartbeat of a series.
Cons: He's got his hands full with "Star Trek" and "Star Wars"; he can't tackle every major franchise.
Pros: One of the hottest and most prestigious directors around; has the action chops to handle Bond along with great visual instincts and narrative precision; could turn Craig's Bond into a more interesting blunt instrument -- obsessive, conflicted, yet still as unpredictable and as dangerous as hell. A female perspective would lend something fresh, especially in light of Judi Dench's departure as M.
Cons: Too much of an auteur to work with producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Likes working with journalist/scriptwriter Mark Boal, who is not the right fit for this fantasy world.
Pros: Prestigious, eclectic, elegant, and would provide a new vision that's both retro and relevant.
Cons: Availability and ability to tackle the Bond machinery.
Pros: Experienced actor-director brings smart screen craft and character depth to even comic-book epics like "Thor." Boasts the Brit advantage; actors love him.
Cons: Availability and avid desire to go Bond.
Pros: He successfully rebooted Bond twice with Pierce Brosnan ("GoldenEye") and Craig ("Casino Royale"); he knows Bond inside and out and is comfortable with the extraordinary demands of the machinery; the fanboys love him; and Sean Connery recommended that Craig stick with him for the duration of his tenure.
Cons: He's not keen on navel gazing, which goes with the territory of making Craig's Bond the center of the story, if not the plot, and he's not a prestige director in keeping with the new direction post "Casino Royale."
Pros: He's as prestigious as they come and can take Bond into new dramatic and VFX-bending territory.
Cons: Too dark and idiosyncratic; also too much of an uncontrollable maverick to suit Wilson and Broccoli.
Pros: Great dramatic flair and wit; expanded his skills with stylish "Source Code"; already developing an Ian Fleming biopic.
Cons: Already developing an Ian Fleming biopic.
Pros: He's an uber Bond fan like Mendes; he's got the action chops along with the right cerebral narrative temperament for Craig's conflicted 007; he's already paid homage to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" in "Inception."
Cons: He's even busier than Mendes, producing "The Justice League" and is going forward with the heady sci-fi epic "Interstellar" with his brother Jonathan (who wrote it for Steven Spielberg before he dropped out). Who knows if he'd mesh with what "Skyfall" screenwriter John Logan is currently concocting?
Pros: He did a great job with Angelina Jolie in international spy thriller "Salt." He's a solid studio craftsman with impeccable skills.